HRC welcomes the 20 years sentence slapped on a Police officer for torturing a suspect

The Human Rights Commission has welcomed the conviction and subsequent sentencing of a police officer to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour by the Kitwe High Court for causing grievous bodily harm to a suspect.

The Commission is encouraged by the sentence of 20 years handed down to the police officer as it will serve as deterrent on other law enforcement officers who habitually engage in cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including torture of individuals who are suspected of committing criminal offences. The Commission, therefore, urges the courts to continue meting out sentences befitting the seriousness of the acts of brutality against members of the public suspected of having committed offences by law enforcement officers.

The Commission continues to receive cases of police brutality, inhuman and degrading treatment of suspects, including torture, and wishes to reiterate its deepest concern that there seems to be no end to such despicable and dehumanising acts which sometimes begin at the point of arrest and continue during interrogations and detention at Police Stations and Correctional Facilities.

It is for this reason that the Commission continues to engage the State to come up with a law that will criminalise torture in order to protect the inherent rights and dignity of individuals. The Commission is hopeful that the adoption of the Bill Criminalising Torture in Zambia by Cabinet on 4th December 2017 will result in the enactment of the law that will give legal effect to the constitutional provision against torture so that perpetrators can receive appropriate punishment and the victims of torture be afforded effective remedies through the courts of law. The enactment of the anti-torture legislation is part of Zambia’s state obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Commission wishes to remind law enforcement officers and the public that torture is a crime against humanity and its absolute prohibition is not only part of customary international law, but also provided for under Article 15 of the Constitution of Zambia. Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are unacceptable in this age of human rights and therefore is no justification for such acts under any circumstances at any time including during a state of emergency or political instability.

Zambia is signatory to UN Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UNCAT) which prohibits torture and accepted the recommendation made by nine countries during the Universal Periodic Review process at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in November 2017 to end all acts of torture and to criminalise torture.

The Commission will continue to advocate for the enactment of the law criminalising torture and for building of capacity of law enforcement officers by training them in modern investigations skills and providing them with modern equipment, tools and facilities to enable them carry out their work without resorting to acts of torture.

The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the 1991 Zambian Constitution as amended by Act Number 2 of 2016 to, among other human rights functions, ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted.

Source: Lusaka Times

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